Council approves SARA House conditional use

The Yuma City Council approved the conditional use permit for S.A.R.A. House during its rescheduled meeting last week.

The May 21 meeting was moved to May 28 due to the May 20 hail storm. The council already has met again this past Tuesday on its regular schedule. (See report on that meeting in next week’s edition.)

Mayor Tim McClung, Mayor Pro-team Marylu Smith Dischner, Jerome Benish, Dan Baucke, Marc Shay and Zach Diaz were in attendance. Terri Frame was absent.

The council tabled a decision in May on S.A.R.A. House’s request for 400 S. Birch St., in order to gather more information. It was back before the council last week.

Several spoke during the public hearing.

Candy Gilliland, a former city employee who now works for S.A.R.A. House, stressed the importance of the organization’s work, helping law enforcement interview and examine victims of abuse, particularly children. She said children need a safe place, and families no longer felt there was privacy at S.A.R.A.’s location in the NJC Yuma Campus building. She added the house on S. Birch is exactly what is needed, serving as a place of refuge as a child advocacy center.

Baucke said concerns about it being a boarding house needs to be clarified. Gilliland said it is not a boarding house, and the only ones who might spend the night there would be staff due to travel.

Dave Hoch spoke in favor of S.A.R.A. House, saying it is an honor the organization wants to be in Yuma, and what it does for children and women is incredible. Hoch said in his opinion it will not hurt property values in the neighborhood. In fact, he said he thinks it will help property values, noting the house at 400 S. Birch has undergone significant improvements.

Former mayor Ron Swehla said he hoped the council would vote in favor of the conditional use.

S.A.R.A. House founder Paula Bragg said it is a community service, a child advocacy center in a residential neighborhood. She said property values have increased in neighborhoods where there is a S.A.R.A. House location in other towns.

She reiterated the NJC site just is not working anymore due to increased activity there. She said her organization might not be able to remain in Yuma if the conditional use is not approved.

Vincent Buckowski of Harvest Hotel said they are the first call from law enforcement and others for people in need, and are committed to providing that service. He said any additional support in Yuma is a great deal.

City Manager Scott Moore checked in to property values as requested, and was told by a local realtor that S.A.R.A. House will increase the values.

A motion for conditional use for professional offices at 400 S. Birch St. was made and seconded, including language that permit is only for as long as the residence is used by S.A.R.A. House. It passed on a 5-1 vote, with Diaz casting the dissenting vote.


The council received several updates during last week’s meeting.

Moore told the council the city is working on educating the public about an upcoming community survey with information on Facebook the city’s website and other means.

It will probably be about another month or so before the clock tower is installed again on S. Main near Highway 34.

Moore told the council the city’s new grant writer, Angela Cordell, started working full time last week. She has applied for a couple of different grants already. Moore said the city is working with CSU Extension on a tree grant following the recent hail storm. The grant would go toward the removal, pruning and replacement of trees, with no matching grants required. The grant is for governmental entities and individuals.

The city has earmarked more than $1 million for upgrades at the Yuma Municipal Pool. Moore said the work remains on schedule to start in August, with the goal of reopening in 2025. He also told how Yuma was able to help Wray recently. The Wray pool had opened, but then had to close down because the pool pump stopped working. Moore called Wray and told them the Yuma pool had a pump that is not being used at the moment. The pump was taken to Wray, installed and the pool was able to reopening.

Moore told the council the city continues to move along legal lines in trying to get something done about the old Lett Hotel on W. Second Ave., which has been declared a hazardous building.

More meeting

The second reading of an ordinance adding wine tastings to a chapter in the Yuma Municipal Code was passed unanimously. There was no comment during the public hearing.

The council voted to change the June 18 meeting to Monday, June 17. June 18 is the first day of the CML Conference in Loveland, and three council members will be attending.

The consent calendar included appointing city representatives to various boards. Representatives to the Yuma County Water Authority are Shay and Eric Metcalfe, with Moore and McClung as alternates. Shay and Mark Triplett were appointed to the Yuma County Landfill Board, with Moore and McClung as alternates. McClung, Karma Wells, Moore and Smith-Dischner were appointed to the Yuma Firemen’s Pension Board. Terri Frame is the representative on the Yuma County Economic Development Board, with McClung as the alternate. Shay remains as the representative to the Northeast Colorado Association of Local Governments.

Street closures were approved for St. John Evangelist Catholic Church Bible School and Parish Picnic, the Yuma Police Department’s National Night Out, and Yuma Hoopsters Heat in the Street.